7 Cooking Tips for the Broke College Student

College might be the best four years of your life, but the typical college diet is far from great, unless of course you can’t get enough of ramen noodles, PB&Js, and Hot Pockets. Most students are coasting on very little money, and whatever spending cash they do have is typically spent on food that’s fast, cheap, and convenient. What many college students don’t know is that cooking at home is often cheaper and just as quick as hitting the drive-thru every day. If you’re a financially strapped college student (who isn’t?), then check out these seven cooking tips to help you eat like a champ even when you’re broke as a joke.

  1. Dress up your ramen noodles:

    We know you love your ramen noodles just the way they are, but you can do more with this college staple than just serve it as is. Dress up your ramen by mixing in frozen veggies, shrimp, and a fried egg on top, or skip the soup altogether and break up the hard noodles into a salad or slaw for a nice crunch. The options are endless, especially when half of your meal costs less than 20 cents!

  2. Make breakfast for dinner:

    If you’re low on dinner food or tired of eating PB&Js every night, shake up your routine and make breakfast for dinner. Breakfast staples like eggs, bacon, and biscuits are very versatile and make for a hearty dinner. Try a protein-packed omelet filled with lots of veggies or make a breakfast casserole you can eat for days.

  3. Keep it simple:

    Don’t overcomplicate cooking with lengthy preparation and dozens of ingredients. Keep it simple and you’ll come to find that cooking isn’t as hard or daunting as you once thought. Think meatloaf, spaghetti, tacos, and other simple meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients or cooking expertise.

  4. Get creative with what you already have:

    One of the first things you should do when you’re hungry and broke is check your pantry, fridge, and freezer for anything edible. It might seem like you have nothing at first, but if you can scrounge together a few basics, like spaghetti, olive oil, and frozen veggies, then you’ll have a decent meal. With a little research and a lot of creativity, you can whip up several meals from ingredients you already have.

  5. Buy less expensive cuts of meat:

    Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t have meat with your meals. Instead, keep the cost down by opting for inexpensive cuts of meat, such as flank steak, chicken thighs, and short ribs. When cooked right, these meats are just as tender and delicious as the more expensive cuts of meat. Make the meat go further by using it sparingly as an accent to an already hearty meal.

  6. Make soups and stews:

    Soups and stews are hearty, delicious, and last for days. Many soups, stews, and chili dishes aren’t particularly expensive or difficult to make, but if the grocery bill exceeds your budget, you can always substitute ingredients for ones you already have or make it vegetarian by cutting out the meat.

  7. Stretch your meals with starches:

    Starchy foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread are not only tasty, but they also help bulk up your meals. Although starches are generally considered empty calories, they do create a feeling of fullness and you’re more likely to have leftovers. Score!

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